The other Pandya: Learning from younger brother Hardik, says Krunal
Krunal came into limelight in the 12 games he played for Mumbai Indians in the IPL this year, scoring 237 runs and picking up six wickets.cricket Updated: Oct 18, 2016 12:01 IST
When all-rounder Hardik Pandya was busy making his ODI debut memorable with athree-wicket haul (3/31) against New Zealand in Dharamsala, elder brother Krunal was at home in Baroda, closely following the match. He was ecstatic to see his younger brother play a match-winning role for India.
However, he was a little blue as well, for he has been sidelined with an injury that has ruined his Ranji Trophy debut season for Baroda.
Playing against Gujarat in Jaipur in the first-round match last week, Krunal tore his left quadriceps while fielding on the third day. He is set to miss the entire Ranji season as he could go under the knife.
“Hardik bowled really well,” said Krunal. “He was bowling quick too. It was a delight to watch him perform like that. It made my day bright though I am upset about my injury.”
A lot of Baroda players missed Krunal against Mumbai at Palam, Delhi, last weekend. They say he is an intelligent player and knows how and when to up his game. Hardik is perceived as an emotional cricketer who likes playing to the galleries. “Hardik is 23 and I am 25, so there is lot of difference in how we think. He is getting mature,” Krunal said.
However, Krunal admitted that he learns a lot from his younger brother’s experience.
“We share a great bond. When he does well, I am very happy and he feels the same for me. As cricketers, we keep helping each other by pointing out each other’s mistakes and appreciating the positives. Hardik is now playing at the international level, so I learn quite a few things to become better. These things always keep you a step ahead from other players,” Krunal added.
The IPL revelation
Krunal came into the limelight after Mumbai Indians bought him for Rs 2 crore in the IPL auction this year. It was a surprise as he hadn’t even made his first-class debut and only had a few T20 games under his belt.
But in the 12 games he played for Mumbai in the ninth edition, Krunal scored 237 runs and picked up six wickets. His performances came at crucial junctures for Mumbai, with the best coming against Delhi Daredevils at home. Krunal played a powerful knock of 86 in 37 balls coming in at No. 3 in that match.
But luck had something else in reserve for the senior Pandya. Injuries have been a part of his career. Last year, he injured his left shoulder while diving to stop a ball in a practice match, just before he was set to make his Ranji debut. He went through injury rehabilitation and recovered just in time for the IPL. His strong performance in the IPL and a consistent run in the domestic season could have worked wonders for him. But the quadriceps injury has ruined everything.
“It is just bad luck. This is the fourth time in six months that I have injured the same muscle. I developed this injury just after IPL,” said Krunal, who had picked two wickets in 17 overs against Gujarat last week. “When it first happened, I did rest for three weeks and followed all the guidelines going for rehab for two months, but it happened again. It is 90% sure that I will have to go for a surgery. But you have to be mentally tough as it decides how well you make a comeback.”
Sitting at home is frustrating for Krunal, especially when Baroda is struggling to ensure a victory. “It is a big disappointment. I was batting and bowling really well and was very excited to play this year’s Ranji. But some things are not under your control. It becomes frustrating but, as a sportsman, you have to deal with all this,” he said.
Missing the current Ranji season is a big loss for Krunal. With all-rounders such as Axar Patel, Hardik and Jayant Yadav getting call-ups into the ODI squad, a good domestic season could have helped Krunal’s case as well.
“As a player, playing Ranji Trophy is very important to get into the India side. If IPL is important, so is Ranji Trophy, one-dayers and T20s. You can’t just say that the IPL is the most important platform, but a strong performance in the Ranji makes your case much stronger,” he said.